Paddy had long heard the stories of an amazing family tradition. It seems that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 18th birthday.
On that special day, they each walked across the lake to the pub on the far side for their first legal drink. So when Paddy’s 18th birthday came around, he and his pal Mick, took a boat out to the middle of the lake, Paddy, stepped out of the boat…and nearly drowned!
Mick just barely managed to pull him to safety. Furious, wet and confused, Paddy went straight to see his grandmother.
“Grandma,” he moaned, “Tis me 18th birthday, so why can’t I walk ‘cross the lake like me da, his da and his da before him…?”
Granny looked deeply into Paddy’s, troubled brown eyes and said, “Because yer da, yer grand da and yer great-grand da were all born in December, when the lake is frozen, and ye were born in August, ya eejit!
In an ideal world, President Obama would far rather postpone the festering issue of Iran’s nuclear programme until well after the conclusion of this year’s presidential contest. Unfortunately, Mr Obama is not going to be afforded this luxury, unless there is a radical change in the way Iran approaches the deepening global crisis over its nuclear ambitions.
The only reason we have not, in recent days, woken up to discover that Israeli warplanes have launched a devastating series of bombing raids against Iran’s nuclear facilities is because of the personal appeal Mr Obama made to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he visited the White House last month.
Mr Obama reassured Mr Netanyahu that on no account would America allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and that, for the moment, he would prefer to let the new round of economic sanctions take its course. With the Iranian economy in freefall, the president argued, there was always the possibility that the mullahs might be persuaded to come to their senses and return to the negotiating table. And besides, bombing Iran would not help Mr Obama’s re-election prospects.
When an Islamic terrorist with British links is interrogated overseas and released, he knows what to do next: sue MI6. This technique was pioneered by Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian whose Afghan sojourn took him to Guantánamo Bay. He wanted to see papers held by the CIA, who refused him, so he sued the Brits to see what CIA papers they might have access to. As every self-respecting jihadi knows, British spooks are stuck in a legal loophole: to defend themselves in court risks releasing classified documents that could blow agents or betray sources. Refusing to fight leaves them no choice but to settle out-of-court, turning their opponents into millionaires.
At least two dozen Islamists have now tried this rather lucrative game of spy-catching and it’s easy to imagine how the spooks are tiring of writing so many cheques. The loophole could be closed with a relatively straightforward legal fix: sensitive documents could be shown in private to a judge, who then makes a decision.
Nearly 400,000 people earning between £100,000 and £150,000 will have to pay more to the taxman, while every other group of workers will be better off, according to an analysis by one of the biggest accountancy firms.
PricewaterhouseCoopers said the tax raid would hit doctors, dentists, headmasters and small business owners the hardest.
Top earners will benefit from the abolition of the 50p tax rate, while those on lower salaries will enjoy larger tax-free allowances.
The study is the latest to highlight the controversial impact of George Osborne’s Budget and changes to the tax system in the wake of the financial crisis and recession.
The Chancellor and the Prime Minister have repeatedly stressed that those with the “broadest shoulders” should bear the greatest burden of tax rises.
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